Full text of "rumi"
Let the Beauty
We Love Be
What We Do:
the Poems of
Mio Cohen & Ray Soulard, Jr.
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Portland, O r e g o k
Let the Beauty
We Love Be
What We Do:
the Poems of
Mio Cohen & Ray Soulard, Jr.
For Ric Amante, brother,
with love and fire.
I was raw.
Now I burn.
LET THE BEAUTY WE LOVE BE WHAT WE DO:
Selections from the Poems of Jelalludin Rumi
English translations © 1995 Coleman Barks
Burning Man Books is a Special Projects Division imprint of
Scriptor Press, 32 Newman Rd. #2, Maiden, Massachusetts, 02148
Who Says Words With My Mouth?
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.
This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say.
I don't plan it.
When I'm outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running
The speechless full moon
comes out now.
[Today, like every other day, we wake up empty]
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
An Empty Garlic
You miss the garden,
because you want a small fig from a random tree.
You don't meet the beautiful woman.
You're joking with an old crone.
It makes me want to cry how she detains you,
stinking mouthed, with a hundred talons,
putting her head over the roof edge to call down,
tasteless fig, fold over fold, empty
as a dry-rotten garlic.
She has you tight by the belt,
even though there's no flower and no milk
inside her body.
Death will open your eyes
to what her face is: leather spine
of a black lizard. No more advice.
Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull of what you really love.
[The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the
The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question,
nor is bought with going to amazing places.
Until you've kept your eyes
and your wanting still for fifty years,
you don't begin to cross over from confusion.
It's a habit of yours to walk slowly.
You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?
Be wide as the air to learn a secret.
Right now you're equal portions clay
and water, thick mud.
Abraham learned how the sun and moon and the stars all set.
He said, No longer will I try to assign partners for God.
You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave
till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.
You're trying to live your life in open scaffolding.
Say Bismillah, In the name of God,
as the priest does with a knife when he offers an animal.
Bismillah your old self
to find your real name.
Who is luckiest in this whole orchestra? The reed.
Its mouth touches your lips to learn music.
All reeds, sugarcane especially, think only
of this chance. They sway in the canebrakes,
free in the many ways they dance.
Without you the instruments would die.
One sits close beside you. Another takes a long kiss.
The tambourine begs, Touch my skin so I can be myself.
Let me feel you enter each limb bone by bone,
that what died last night can be whole today.
Why live some soberer way and feel you ebbing out?
I won't do it.
Either give me enough wine or leave me alone,
now that I know how it is
to be with you in a constant conversation.
Bonfire at Midnight
Someone Digging in the Ground
A shout comes out of my room
where I've been cooped up.
After all my lust and dead living I can still live with you.
You want me to.
You fix and bring me food.
You forget the way I've been.
The ocean moves and surges in the heat
of the middle of the day,
in the heat of this thought I'm having.
Why aren't all human resistances burning up with this thought?
It's a drum and arms waving.
It's a bonfire at midnight on the top edge of a hill,
this meeting again with you.
An eye is meant to see things.
The soul is here for its own joy.
A head has one use: for loving a true love.
Legs: to run after.
Love is for vanishing into the sky. The mind,
for learning what men have done and tried to do.
Mysteries are not to be solved. The eye goes blind
when it only wants to see why.
A lover is always accused of something.
But when he finds his love, whatever was lost
in the looking comes back completely changed.
On the way to Mecca, many dangers: thieves,
the blowing sand, only camel's milk to drink.
Still each pilgrim kisses the black stone there
with pure longing, feeling in the surface
the taste of the lips he wants.
This talk is like stamping new coins. They pile up,
while the real work is done outside
by someone digging in the ground.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
If anyone wants to know what "spirit" is,
or what "God's fragrance" means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don't try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.
When someone asks what it means
to "die for love," point
If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.
The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.
When someone doesn't believe that,
walk back into my house.
When lovers moan,
they're telling our story.
I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.
How did Joseph's scent come to Jacob?
How did Jacob's sight return?
A little wind cleans the eyes.
When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he'll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us.
One night a man was crying,
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?"
The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
"Why did you stop praising?"
"Because I've never heard anything back."
you express is the return message."
The grief your cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.
Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.
There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.
Give your life
to be one of them.
Two Kinds of Intelligence
There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It's fluid,
and it doesn't move from outside to inside
through the conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.
There was a feast. The king
was heartily in his cups.
He saw a learned scholar walking by.
"Bring him in and give him
some of this fine wine."
Servants rushed out and brought the man
to the king's table, but he was not
receptive. "I had rather drink poison!
I have never tasted wine and never will!
Take it away from me!"
He kept on with these loud refusals,
disturbing the atmosphere of the feast.
This is how it sometimes is
at God's table.
Someone who has heard about ecstatic love,
but never tasted it, disrupts the banquet.
If there were a secret passage
from his ear to his throat, everything
in him would change. Initiation would occur.
As it is, he's all fire and no light,
all husk and no kernel.
The king gave orders,
do what you must!"
This is how your invisible guide acts,
the chess champion across from you
that always wins. He cuffed
the scholar's head and said,
The cup was drained
and the intellectual started singing
and telling ridiculous jokes.
He joined the garden, snapping his fingc
and swaying. Soon, of course,
he had to pee.
He went out, and there, near the latrine,
was a beautiful woman, one of the king's harem.
His mouth hung open. He wanted her!
Right then, he wanted her!
And she was not unwilling.
They fell to, on the ground.
You've seen a baker rolling dough.
He kneads it gently at first,
then more roughly.
He pounds it on the board.
It softly groans under his palms.
Now he spreads it out
and rolls it flat.
Then he bunches it,
and rolls it all the way out again,
thin. Now he adds water,
and mixes it well.
and a little more salt.
Now he shapes it delicately
to its final shape and slides it into the oven,
which is already hot.
You remember breadmaking!
This is how your desire
tangles with a desired one.
And it's not just a metaphor
for a man and a woman making love.
Warriors in battle do this too.
A great mutual embrace is always happening
between the eternal and what dies,
between essence and accident.
The sport has different rules
in every case, but it's basically
the same, and remember:
the way you make love is the way
God will be with you.
So these two were lost in their sexual trance.
They did not care anymore about feasting
or wine. Their eyes were closed like
perfectly matching calligraphy lines.
The king went looking for the scholar,
and when he saw them there coupled, commented,
"Well, as it is said, 'A good king
must serve his subjects from his own table!'"
There is joy, a winelike freedom
that dissolves the mind and restores
the spirit, and there is manly fortitude
like the king's, a reasonableness
that accepts the bewildered lostness.
But meditate now on steadfastness
and clarity, and let those be the wings
that lift and soar through the celestial spheres.
There's Nothing Ahead
[I USED TO BE SHY]
Lovers think they're looking for each other,
but there's only one search: wandering
this world is wandering that, both inside one
transparent sky. In here
there is no dogma and no heresy.
The miracle of Jesus is himself, not what he said or did
about the future. Forget the future.
I'd worship someone who could do that.
On the way you may want to look back, or not,
but if you can say There's nothing ahead,
there will be nothing there.
Stretch your arms and take hold the cloth of your clothes
with both hands. The cure for pain is in the pain.
Good and bad are mixed, if you don't have both,
you don't belong with us.
When one of us gets lost, is not here, he must be inside us.
There's no place like that anywhere in the world.
I used to be shy.
You made me sing.
I used to refuse things at table.
Now I shout for more wine.
In somber dignity, I used to sit
on my mat and pray.
Now children run through
and make faces at me.
In the Arc of Your Mallet
Don't go anywhere without me.
Let nothing happen in the sky apart from me,
or on the ground, in this world or that world,
without my being in its happening.
Vision, see nothing I don't see.
Language, say nothing.
The way the night knows itself with the moon,
be that with me. Be the rose
nearest to the thorn that I am.
I want to feel myself in you when you taste food,
in the arc of your mallet when you work,
when you visit friends, when you go
up on the roof by yourself at night.
There's nothing worse than to walk out along the street
without you. I don't know where I'm going.
You're the road and the knower of roads,
more than maps, more than love.
Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round
in another form. The child weaned from mother's milk
now drinks wine and honey mixed.
God's joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flowerbed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
till one day it cracks them open.
Part of the self leaves the body when we sleep
and changes shape. You might say, "Last night
I was a cypress tree, a small bed of tulips,
a field of grapevines." Then the phantasm goes away.
You're back in the room.
I don't want to make anyone fearful.
Hear what's behind what I say.
Tatatumtum tatum tatadum.
There's the light gold of wheat in the sun
and the gold of bread made from that wheat.
I have neither. I'm only talking about them,
as a town in the desert looks up
at stars on a clear night.
[I HAVE LIVED ON THE LIP]
I have lived on the lip
of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside!
[Real value comes with madness]
Real value comes with madness,
matzub below, scientist above.
Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises.
[Dance, when you're broken open]
Dance, when you're broken open.
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you're perfectly free.